Even though there were some big story lines and games heading into the weekend for Sunshine State teams, especially related to Miami players - Miami vs. Alabama, FSU vs. Notre Dame, and UCF vs. Boise State, N’Kosi Perry and Jarren Williams entering their first games with FAU and USF, respectively. There are even bigger story lines heading into Week Two - QB battles at Florida (Anthony Richardson vs. Emory Jones) and FSU (McKenzie Milton vs. Jordan Travis), disappointing Miami opener, and unranked Seminoles impressing forcing overtime against top ten Notre Dame in Tallahassee (yet the Noles remain unranked while Notre Dame moves up in the rankings).
Below, is the current state of the state of Florida football Week One rankings:
1: Florida Gators (1-0) (Previous: 1st)
Ranking: 13th (AP Top 25), 9th (USA Today Coaches Poll)
Week One Result: 35-14 Win over Florida Atlantic
Week Two Matchup: @ South Florida (-28.0)
The uber-athletic Redshirt Freshman QB, Anthony Richardson, arrived as advertised as he had a 99.9 QBR on 3-for-8 for 40 yards passing against FAU, but really shined with his legs carrying the ball seven times for 160 yards and a 73-yard TD. Now, all signs pointed to Redshirt Junior, Emory Jones, carrying the torch as QB this year after Kyle Trask’s impressive 2020 campaign. However, Jones only threw for 113 yards and had two picks. He did tack on 10 carries for 74 yards, which helped open an impressive ground attack. It does appear HC, Dan Mullen, is open to a true two-QB system but did note Jones remains ahead in the QB competition.
Defensively, blue chip 2022 NFL Draft prospect LB, Ventrell Miller, led the team with seven tackles. Defensive End, Zachary Carter, wreaked havoc on FAU’s QB, N’Kosi Perry, all night long with three sacks and one forced fumble.
2: Florida State Seminoles (0-1) (Previous: 4th)
Ranking: 44th (AP Top 25 - 4 points); 35th (USA Today Coaches Poll - 34 points)
Week One Result: 41-38 OT Loss to Notre Dame (#10)
Week Two Matchup: vs. Jacksonville State
The Gators are not the only team with a QB competition as the Seminoles turned some heads on Sunday night with both of their QBs. The incumbent starter, Jordan Travis, made some big time throws, but also threw three picks. The feel-good story in college football, McKenzie Milton, however, not only defied the odds by returning to the gridiron after a journey back from a catastrophic leg injury, but anchored a game-tying drive against top ten Notre Dame (5-for-7 for 48 yards).
While the QB situation will play out in the coming weeks, HC Mike Norvell clearly did well in preparing his team for the Notre Dame game and deserves positive recognition. Even more, despite allowing 41 points, there were some defensive standouts including transfer DE, Jermaine Johnson II, who recorded seven tackles and 2.5 TFLs, and DB, Travis Jay, who recorded a pivotal interception.
Despite exceeding expectations in the opener, FSU has a long way to go as they have not been ranked since the 2018 season opener, and have only been ranked three out of the last 47 weeks (21-27 record since 2017). Thus, they will need to string together consistency.
3: Miami Hurricanes (0-1) (Previous: 2nd)
Ranking: 22nd (AP Top 25), 24th (USA Today Coaches Poll)
Week One Result: 44-13 Loss to Alabama (#1)
Week Two Matchup: vs. Appalachian State (-8.0)
Florida State keeping it competitive in their debut against top ten Notre Dame does not automatically make the Noles’ performance better than Miami’s blowout loss to the nation’s number one team. However, the Noles propensity to adapt and utilize their big play capabilities throughout Sunday evening’s game - as well as marching back from 18-points down - does exude more confidence than the Canes’ reserved approach on Saturday. Obviously, there is still a lot of football to be played, and based on FSU and Miami’s previous few years, the trajectory of these two seasons could really go any which way. Regardless, Miami will need to maintain strong play in the coming weeks to stay in the rankings and near the top of the ACC Coastal.
Long day at the office for Deriq King pic.twitter.com/QUopara0V6— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) September 4, 2021
4: UCF Knights (1-0) (Previous: 3rd)
Ranking: 28th (AP Top 25 - 61 points), 34th (USA Today Coaches Poll - 48 points)
Week One Result: 36-31 Win over Boise State
Week Two Matchup: vs. Bethune-Cookman
After a lengthy weather delay in Orlando before their season opener, it looked like Boise State would rain on UCF’s parade by taking a 21-0 lead early into the second quarter. However, QB Dillon Gabriel relied on his top returning receiving option from last year, Jaylon Robinson, who tallied six receptions for 140 yards and a TD. Northwestern transfer RB, Isaiah Bowser, proved to be a quality workhorse after gaining 170 yards on 32 carries. Bowser collected 119 of his yards after contact as he is a bigger-bodied back compared to key RB departures from last year, Otis Anderson and Greg McCrae.
HC, Gus Malzahn, should be able to maintain a perfect record until they face-off against number seven Cincinnati week six on October 16.
5: Florida Atlantic Owls (0-1) (Previous: 5th)
Ranking: 96th (The Athletic Power Rankings)
Week One Result: 35-14 Loss to Florida (#13)
Week Two Matchup: vs. Georgia Southern
N’Kosi Perry walked into Gainesville and picked up right where he left off in the 2020 Cheez-It Bowl as he threw for 261 yards against the Gators, which was 58 more yards than any FAU QB had in a game in 2020. The Owls do not feature a stout roster but could surprise some teams in Conference USA.
Someone told me that Saturday’s game was the happiest they’ve ever seen me on the field.— N’Kosi Perry (@ko_live5) September 6, 2021
I have to agree with them because this is the happiest I’ve ever been in my life. #Grateful pic.twitter.com/Z2O1KYSHNJ
6: Florida International Panthers (1-0) (Previous: 7th)
Ranking: 117th (The Athletic Power Rankings)
Week One Result: 48-10 Win over Long Island University
Week Two Matchup: vs. Texas State
FIU put together a strong performance en route to a 48-10 victory over the Long Island University Sharks. NFL running back prospect, D’Vonte Price, only had five carries on the evening but finished with 165 yards and three TD - a whopping 33 yards a rush. Redshirt Senior and Maryland transfer, Max Bortenschlager, also put together a strong performance against the FCS opponent, going 14-for-17 for 266 yards passing.
FIU is favored against Texas State but then is heavy underdog against Texas Tech.
7: South Florida Bulls (0-1) (Previous: 6th)
Ranking: 124th (The Athletic Power Rankings)
Week One Result: 45-0 Loss to NC State
Week Two Matchup: @ Florida Gators (+28.0)
The Bulls had a rude awakening in week one against unranked NC State after losing 45-0. Now, South Florida takes on the top ten Florida Gators. UNC transfer, Cade Fortin, looked poor in his debut as he went 7-for-20 for 41 yards and an INT. After Fortin’s woes, South Florida brought in freshman, Timmy McClain, who also threw two picks. Should the qualms continue, former Miami QB, Jarren Williams, may get his chance with the Bulls. Former Miami DB, Christian Williams, had three tackles in his South Florida debut.
Even though the Bulls ranked 5th in 2021 recruiting among AAC teams, they have not won since September 12, 2020 and, at this rate, may have trouble stringing together victories this season.